7 questions with the Toffee design team

Leather Collection 2015

7 questions with Natasha (Toffee’s founder), and the design team about what has inspired the new collection…

  1. The new Toffee collection has arrived, what is the inspiration behind the collection..
    Yes, we’re extremely excited about the new collection! After having fun working with waxed canvas in our previous collection, our newest collection is based around the best material in the world… leather. We have sourced a beautiful naturally milled subtle grain leather in black and tan, which has been an inspiration in itself.
    The designs have been inspired by classic and retro forms of the past, particularly from the 70s, but with modern and innovative tweaks. We usually have people in mind when designing and imagining what would they want to carry. Alexa Chung is usually a muse for the women’s products with her effortless cool. Men and women on the streets of Sydney are also a form of inspiration, and most of the time more inspiring than magazines. There is a huge increase in interest in menswear which is great! The men’s bags are designed to complement their lives and outfits. Not too loud to detract, but to complement their existing style. With the women’s bags, you can get away with being a bit more adventurous (eg. our new leopard Standard Shopper).
  2. All Toffee’s designs are developed in-house in Sydney, can you speak a bit about the design process?
    Firstly, we review what’s missing in the collection, and our customer’s desires, and then rough sketches are drawn up. Material and colour trends from the catwalks are researched (vogue.co.uk is great for up to the minute men’s and women’s fashion shows) plus select trend forecasting sites.
    A crucial part of the design process is determining how to camouflage the fact that the bag/case is holding a tech device, and designing something our customers would be proud to carry every day. Our products are designed to be attractive and stylish with the added bonus of functionality for digital devices. And not the other way around. Most people have an iPad or MacBook these days so it’s important to house these securely, discreetly, and attractively. The good thing about our bags is that they can be used every day, with or without a MacBook or iPad inside.
  3. Leather is clearly present in this new collection. What are your favourite materials to work with and why?
    Leather is my favourite by far, for so many reasons. It’s hardwearing, lasts a lifetime and feels and looks so good.
    We also love waxed canvas as it has a casual appeal and is also durable and water resistant. Plus the colour combinations are always fun. The combination of these materials together is a match made in heaven.
  4. How do you balance aesthetics and functionality in the designs?
    Aesthetics and functionality are equally weighted. The functionality is usually disguised underneath the aesthetic appeal. It is not always clear from looking at the products as to what it does. There is an element of disguise and surprise. For example, the Flip Wallet has a magnet at the back of the wallet so that the flap does not get in the way when talking. People don’t realise this at first then get overly excited when they do!
  5. What is unique about Toffee’s designs?
    Simplicity in design. Nothing is added for no reason. Too many times, details are added to products that aren’t needed. At the moment there is a hugely popular trend called normcore — this is a push and rejection for over the top.
    Character is always ever present though through hardware, lining and contrasting materials.
    Our retro-inspired name labels, featuring name, phone and email fields, are made using writable nylon trim which dries after a minute. Reminiscent of primary school notebooks, the label adds a bit of old school and individuality.
    Another unique factor is that element of surprise. The bags look like normal lifestyle products, yet have hidey-hole sections for all our modern devices.
  6. How are the names of Toffee’s products decided?
    For this collection we looked at vintage car brands and matched them to the products — Combi, Mini, Lincoln and Standard were all retro brands. But they also are descriptive of the products eg. Combi, a shortened word of combination — is relevant as our Combi leather bag has three ways of wearing it: as a backpack, briefcase or satchel. For our previous Laneways collection, product names were based on suburbs or streets in Sydney, Melbourne, London, San Francisco and New York — Bleecker, Fitzroy, Piccadilly, Mission, Centennial, Macleay, and Oxford.
  7. Finally, can you give 3 adjectives that suit Toffee?
    Good-looking, surprising and friendly
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